|November 19, 2013|
Previously published on November 14, 2013
Suesz v. Med-1 Solutions, LLC, --- F. 3d ----, Case 13-1821 (7th Cir. Oct. 31, 2013)
In March 2012 defendant filed, and won, a collection suit in the Pike Township small claims court, located in Marion County. Plaintiff lived one county over from Marion County. Though plaintiff incurred the debt in Marion County, he did so in Lawrence Township not in Pike Township. Plaintiff claimed that it was defendant's practice to file claims in Pike Township regardless of the origins of the dispute.
Plaintiff brought suit under the FDCPA's venue provision, which requires suits to be filed where the consumer signed the contract sued upon or where the consumer resides at the commencement of the action. The district court granted defendant's motion to dismiss, and reasoned that the Pike Township small claims court did not constitute an FDCPA judicial district, but was instead an administrative subset of the Marion County Circuit Court.
The Seventh Circuit upheld the Court's decision. The Court reaffirmed the holding that the township courts do not constitute free-standing judicial districts in either form or function. Specifically, the limitations on the court's authority were not coterminous with the township boundaries. Moreover, given their structure, the Court held that the township court, superior court, and circuit court were meant to function as a symbiotic whole, with the township court obviating the need for a superior court small claims docket. Plaintiff's counsel states it will file a petition to reconsider or for en banc hearing.